By Gabriel Rom
Gov. Andrew Cuomo has nixed a controversial 3-year-old proposal to build a liquefied natural gas terminal 19 miles off Jones Beach on Long Island amid fears that it could trigger an environmental disaster or become a target for terrorists.
The deepwater docking station known as Port Ambrose would have supplied the downstate region with cheaper natural gas brought in from the Caribbean by tankers.
Cuomo, in officially announcing his veto in Long Beach Nov. 12, listed a number of reasons why he opposed the site.
Cuomo said al-Qaeda has threatened to target such facilities and Superstorm Sandy was powerful enough to damage infrastructure built to survive major storms. Cuomo also said the fuel port would harm vital commercial squid and scallop fishing and conflict with a major wind farm proposed for the same waters.
“When you put all of those things together, the reward was not worth the risk,” he told about 200 cheering opponents of the project in Long Beach.
Residents, public officials and activists gave the governor a standing ovation.
The plan has also been vociferously opposed by State Sen. Joseph Addabbo (D-Howard Beach).
“Gov. Cuomo’s decision to veto the Port Ambrose LNG proposal is a huge victory for the people of Rockaway and those who have fought against this project since day one,” Addabbo said. “The Port Ambrose project was not in line with the values that New York places on protecting our environment and would have put not only the environment at risk, but the people who live on the Rockaway peninsula as well. As we move forward and continue to find new and innovative ways to harvest natural energy, we must not sacrifice the safety of our land and our residents in return.”
The project had been designed to save consumers $325 million per year, according to Roger Whelan, chief executive officer of Liberty Natural Gas, the company proposing the project. The company had also estimated that it would result in more than 600 jobs.
The U.S. Coast Guard’s final Environmental Impact Statement did not find any major problems with the project.
“Failure to provide additional natural gas to the target market, especially during peak periods, could result in price volatility and shortages,” the 4,000-page impact statement said.
fWith two states affected, either Cuomo or New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie had the power under federal law to kill the proposal if they took action by Dec. 21.
The veto does not prevent Liberty from returning with another proposal.
Reach reporter Gabriel Rom by e-mail at [email protected]